Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
News Front: We would like to begin with the blockade of the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics. The Ukrainian population, its active part, sincerely believes: ‘well, of course, it’s regrettable for the people, but what can be done if it is necessary for peace and for Ukraine’s victory, even if they die, for us it will be good’. How did they [Ukrainian authorities – ed] succeed to brainwash people this much? And who managed to brainwash people so that they believe that they blockade Donbass, which for sure will die as whole?
Oleg Tsarev: You are absolutely right. This morning I watched a programme where a prominent Ukrainian political scientist, in all seriousness, said in one of the studios – ‘well, who are these two million people: of course, we will blockade them, there won’t be work, the mines will stop, and they for sure will die — there is no doubt’. And all the studio agreed with him. And then they agreed that, of course, these are people, but on the other hand — it is they themselves who accepted this choice.
News Front: If they voted in the referendum for the LPR and DPR – it means this.
Oleg Tsarev: “Yes. And such are the moods in Ukraine. The first nonsense is that people will die. Of course, the situation is difficult, but coal is bought. Romania, Poland, Georgia, Belarus all buy coal. And if Ukraine doesn’t buy it, it’s nothing fatal. Anthracite is very good coal, such coal isn’t plentiful…”
News Front: Crimea is going to buy it too.
Oleg Tsarev: Crimea will also buy it – yes. The meeting at the level of the head of the Republic of Crimea, Sergey Aksenov, determined that it is necessary to work more actively. And of course, people won’t die, exactly like how Crimea didn’t die – the enterprises will work. Ukraine continually steps on all the rakes in existence. And Ukraine’s situation is difficult. Instead of Donbass coal they can only buy Russian coal. And if they don’t buy either Donbass nor Russian, they will be obliged to buy African coal. And it is still necessary to buy and deliver the African coal. And then, no transfer in Ukraine will be able to cope with such an amount of coal, which must be transferred – and the maximum that can be transferred is only a quarter of what is needed. The load on nuclear power plants, which are in a terrible condition, will grow. There they stole money that was for repairs, they bought the incorrect fuel. There are many system problems in nuclear power plants. And this, in general, can lead to a big problem. It means the interruptions in the power supply of Ukraine can lead to a collapse, but the most fatal thing is that they can receive a second Chernobyl.
Petro Poroshenko, with his politics, reached the point where he has a very narrow corridor of decision-making. And to disperse the blockaders is bad because he needs the support of “patriots”, and not to disperse them means the collapse of the economy, and once again, the blame will be hung on the current authorities: you didn’t succeed, you had to swtich your thermal stations to other coal, you didn’t buy coal in due time, and so on … I.e. everything that will now occur will be hung on Petro Poroshenko.
News Front: Does it mean that they try to push Poroshenko into such a situation when the only exit and the only opportunity to untie this knot is to release the troops, including those who he is afraid – nationalist battalions, on the territory of Donbass with the order “for the Motherland, for Poroshenko”?
Oleg Tsarev: I’m sure that such a danger exists. I maintain constant contact with my Ukrainian acquaintances in politics — deputies, officials, security officers. And today everything is ready for offensive. There is just no order to start it. Whether it will be given, nobody knows. 150,000 UAF soldiers are gathered on the border with Donbass. I won’t hide that this is five to eight times more than the armed forces of the militia. In addition to this, these forces can be gathered in the directions of strikes. I.e. not to stage an offensive on all of the frontline, but to make several lines of strikes.
News Front: I.e. to hammer a wedge between Donetsk and Lugansk.
Oleg Tsarev: “And there will be an advantage of one hundred, two hundred, three hundred people to one militiaman. Of course, the situation is difficult. And all understand that … Well, at least, I have no doubt that even if there will be a break, then there will be a cauldron. And then an enormous number of UAF fighters will die. Then, perhaps, there will be a counterattack of Donbass. But in any case, as many militiamen will be lost as UAF soldiers.”
News Front: And the population of these settlements …
Oleg Tsarev: Yes, it will suffer. And, as far as I understand, now the leadership of the Russian Federation does everything, sends all possible signals for Petro Poroshenko to not give this order. This is the recognition of passports of both the DPR and LPR, and Vladimir Vladimirovich’s appearance at a meeting of the FSB, Lavrov’s statement, statements of other prominent politicians that Donbass will be supported – and that an offensive isn’t worth starting: ‘we support Donbass, we won’t leave it face-to-face with this aggression, and it isn’t known yet how it will come to an end for Ukraine’. God willing, Petro Poroshenko will listen to these signals.
News Front: I would like to come back to the blockade of Donbass. Who creates this information porridge, which, thanks to political scientists, Ukrainian people eat, and believe that there is a need to kill two million inhabitants of Donbass via starvation? Who stands behind this blockade? To whom it is beneficial, and why?
Oleg Tsarev: Well, it isn’t a secret. When I spoke about it two weeks ago, very few people were talking about it – and now it is said in the Ukrainian media, and in the Russian media. It is Igor Kolomoysky together with Yulia Tymoshenko who work in this direction, in order to create problems for Petro Poroshenko. And here Yulia Tymoshenko — is less obvious in this. She is waiting to see how the situation will end.
Petro Poroshenko works very actively. He situation is such that he is the only oligarch in Ukraine who has money. All others, including Rinat Akhmetov, are very seriously indebted. Credits were given to them under assets. The assets, in a situation that is economically and politically difficult, depreciated many times: two, three, five times. Of course, all banks are now in such a situation where they say — ‘please, add finances, bring something else to cover the sum that you were given as credit’. Practically in all foreign credits there is such a column that in case your assets depreciate, you have to give additional assets or urgently repay the loan. I.e. at any moment any bank can declare any oligarch bankrupt.
In Ukraine there are two people among billionaires who won’t be declared as bankrupt. One of them is Petro Poroshenko, who had all his credits in Ukrainian and Russian banks, and he via the courts withdrew his pledges, plus he left with cash, and earned a lot on all these operations. … The only person who can fight back is Rinat Akhmetov. That’s why Kolomoisky, with his blockade, at the same time hits both these people. He causes trouble for Petro Poroshenko and creates problems for Rinat Akhmetov. Because, in such a situation when his enterprises are on the verge of stopping, and if they are really stopped, it can so happen that Swiss banks will urgently demand their return: there is one big credit — 5 billion dollars. It means the bankruptcy of Rinat Akhmetov. But this is already another situation.
Now many Ukrainian oligarchs look at Petro Poroshenko from a such position: they never considered him as the cleverest …
News Front: Viktor Yanukovych also wasn’t considered as the cleverest, and that’s why he was pushed to be the governor of the region, then as the Prime Minister, and then as President because he was convenient for the same Akhmetov. It was possible to manipulate him and not be afraid that he is so clever that he will surpass his owner, arrange an internal coup, and will become the monopolist in power.
Oleg Tsarev: That’s why some movements of Victor Pinchuk and Igor Kolomoisky point to the fact that they have some ambitions connected with their arrival to Ukrainian power. And here Kolomoisky has every chance. Every chance if Poroshenko will become off-balanced, Kolomoisky alone or together with Yulia Tymoshenko, in some manner will try to take power in Ukraine into his hands. And on this path he is cut-off by Akhmetov, who was always his enemy. And Petro Poroshenko also cuts him off. With one blockade, Kolomoisky kills two rabbits. Not to mention that he kills a third rabbit. Because now attempts are being made to take the Kremenchug plant “Ukrtatneft”, which was stolen by him in due time – and which makes gasoline and as a by-product fuel oil (which was always difficult to sell) – in order to replace the coal at thermal power stations. And here Kolomoisky has his game. And in the framework of this game he supports the protest action in Kiev, and now the campaign of the blockade of Donbass.
News Front: It’s a return to Kiev of the Dnepropetrovsk mafia! Kolomoisky – the President, Tymoshenko – the Prime Minister. Or visa versa. It would be very interesting to look at it. On the other hand, I don’t understand one thing – where in all these deals do the 35 million population of Ukraine fit in? Or 30? I don’t know how many remained and didn’t leave.
Oleg Tsarev: Yes, it is very difficult for the population … The population is completely governed by the mass media. Here it is important what Petro Poroshenko in such a situation will undertake, how he will respond. It is necessary to say that Petro Poroshenko received the support of the world community for the dispersal of ‘Maidan’ which took place on the third anniversary of ‘Maidan’. Unlike Yanukovych, he did everything quickly and accurately, and didn’t allow an overflow of protests across the country. His next problem is the blockade. And here, coming back to what I said earlier, the probability that Petro Poroshenko will start to cleanse the blockade and simultaneously begin an offensive at the front is very high. And this, of course, would be a negative scenario.
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